Actinic Keratosis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

March 19 21:05 2019 Print This Article

An actinic keratosis (AK), is a small crusty, scaly, or crumbly bump or horn that arises on the skin surface. It occur most frequently in fair-skinned people. It is most likely to appear on the face, scalp, back of the neck, upper chest, forearm and back of the hand. The cause is frequent or intense exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, typically from the sun. Many doctors consider actinic keratosis to be precancerous because it can develop into skin cancer. Actinic keratoses generally measure in size between 2 to 6 millimeters in diameter (between the size of a pencil point to that of an eraser). They are usually reddish in color and often have a white scale on top. In addition to feeling rough, actinic keratoses may feel sore or painful when fingers or clothing rub against them. Actinic keratoses, also known as solar keratoses, grow slowly and usually cause no signs or symptoms other than patches or small spots on your skin. These lesions take years to develop, usually first appearing in older adults. Left untreated, about 2 percent to 5 percent of actinic keratoses develop into a serious form of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

Actinic keratosis (AK), also known as a solar keratosis, is a small, rough spot occurring on skin that has been chronically exposed to the sun. Actinic keratoses are very common (one third of men over the age of 70 in the UK have at least one actinic keratosis) and are usually harmless. A few actinic keratoses (estimates vary but probably about 2%) will turn into a skin cancer (a squamous cell carcinoma) and this is the main reason for knowing about them. Actinic keratosis is the most common precancerous lesion of the skin. These lesions appear as red, blotchy patches, commonly found on the face and head. They occur much more frequently in older individuals with fair skin, blue eyes, and a history of freckling. As they are directly related to cumulative sun exposure, over 50% of fair-skinned people living in sunny climates develop these lesions. Consequently, reducing sun exposure throughout one’s lifetime, particularly in childhood, can dramatically reduce the risk for actinic keratosis.

Causes of Actinic Keratosis

Find common causes and risk factors of Actinic Keratosis:

  • Certain genetic disorders result in increased sun sensitivity or decreased ability to repair cell damage. These individuals have a greater propensity for developing premalignancies and malignancies of the skin.
  • Actinic keratosis can also emerge from exposure to cancer-causing substances (carcinogenic substances) such as arsenic, X-ray radiation.
  • Age, is also the main cause of it. Peoples, who are older than 45 are easily affected by it.
  • The immune system suppression, is also the main cause of actinic keratosis.
  • Ionizing radiation such as radiotherapy may also increase of skin cancers.
  • Mostly seen in pale-skinned, fair-haired, light-eyed people due to their sensitivity to the sunlight.

Signs and Symptoms of Actinic Keratosis

Sign and symptoms may include the following:

  • Rough and dry textured skin lesion.
  • Itch, burn, or sting.
  • Red and irritated skin.
  • Scaly patches.

Treatment for Actinic Keratosis

Treatment may include:

  • The treatment with CO2 laser, is suitable in destroying unwanted growth of skin.
  • Some medicated creams and solutions are useful in removing actinic keratosis, when the lesions are numerous.
  • It is the most common and effective treatment for AK, it is especially effective when a limited number of lesions exist. Liquid nitrogen is applied to the growths to freeze them. Some temporary redness and swelling may occur after treatment.
  • Surgical removal: the lesions can be removed by surgery.
  • Fluorouracil (5-FU), a medication that you put directly on the keratoses.
  • Imiquimod cream (Aldara), a medication that has recently been approved for treating actinic keratosis. The cream changes the body’s response to sun exposure, helping to prevent the formation of keratoses.
  • Lasers, chemical peels,chemotherapy creams and dermabrasion.
  Article "tagged" as: